We love the idea of an absurdly powerful and altogether over spec’ed ultra-small PC.
It’s a simple idea and fairly easy to concoct on paper, but putting it into action demands pockets of cash and a lot of technical finesse.
With AMD’s latest mini-ITX or SFF (Small Form Factor) graphics card, the Radeon R9 Nano, it’s become that much easier to do.
At just 6 inches (approximately 15 centimetres), the R9 Nano is decidedly tiny, but don’t be fooled by its diminutive size because it offers performance comparable to NVIDIA’s much larger GTX 980.
Taking cue from the R9 Nano, Korean website iyd.kr looked to build the best possible custom SFF Mini-ITX rig they could while using an acquired sample card of the R9 Nano.
This is the result:
This entirely bespoke build is part of AMD’s ‘MakeItNano’ campaign, a competition in which the users with the most creative or eye-catching SFF PCs will win themselves an R9 Nano.
In the case of DGLee, well he’s been sponsored one by AMD and is, instead, charged with building something that best defines the R9 Nano, and boy has he.
The thing is, for as attractive as this build is, just wait until you see the craftsmanship that went into building it, or what’s powering it.
This is not your average SFF PC, not by a long shot. For example, this is the CPU powering it.
And this is what its Windows Task Manager looks like. No, you’re not imagining things, that really is 36 threads at work!
Entitled the ‘Unprecedented High Density Teraflops Machine’, it sports an Intel Xeon E5-2699 V3 processor. A CPU, we might add, that houses 18 cores (36 threads) clocked at 2.3 GHz (which can be boosted to 3.6 GHz) and 45 MB of L3 cache.
This processor is very much a server-based part, but that hasn’t stopped enthusiasts from implementing it into their builds, and for good reason.
While Intel’s top of the line enthusiast CPU, the Core i7-5960X, is capable of an impressive 768 GFlops. The Xeon CPU, on the other hand, produces 1.324 TFlops (1324 GFlops). But don’t expect a CPU with 18 cores to come cheap.
RebelTech sells the CPU for, there’s no getting around it, R70, 286.
And we thought the R9 Nano would be the affordability crutch of this build, apparently not.
To top it off, the SFF PC uses three Toshiba Q300 Pro 256GB SSDs, a tough product to locate locally, but each would set you back around R3, 000 if they were to be sold locally. This is purely a guesstimation on our part, based on international pricing and how inflation works once SSDs reach South African shores.
And just by the way, with absolutely performance the goal of the Unprecedented High Density Teraflops Machine, the three SSDs are running in a Raid 0 configuration.
That means that data is shared equally across all three drives as though they were a single unit; it’s an array that considerably improves performance at the cost of, well, the price of three rather than one SSD.
Throw in 16 GB (8 GB x 2) of DDR4 PC4-17000 RAM from Crucial, at around R1, 700 if RebelTech is anything to go by, and you have one heck of a system.
You’ll notice a second R9 Nano, and DGLee did plan to use a dual card setup, meaning an additional 8.19 TFlops of performance, but the size of the case and the difficulty of obtaining the cable necessary to split the motherboard’s PCI-Express lanes evenly in half made it too difficult to accomplish.
For those who are curious, DGLee used an AsRock ITX EPC612D4I LGA 2011-3 motherboard, a four-channel mini-ITX motherboard with heck of a lot of appeal for anyone looking to build a powerful but small PC. It’s going to set you back around R4000+, so it’s not cheap, but then what about this PC is?
To finish the components off, DGLee used just about the best SFF PSU available on the market, Silverstone’s 600W SFX Series SX600-G, an approximately R2, 000 PSU.
All-in-all, that’s a fantastic 10 TFlops of performance, but at a cost of approximately R98, 000, so it’s really just a hypothetical for us.
It looks gorgeous though, and DGLee did a splendid job of putting it together:
It’s all just so smart. The GPU is positioned at the top, facing outwards so that it might suck in cool air and blow it out of its exhaust vents without affecting the rest of the components.
And the PSU and SSDs, as you’ll see below, are kept apart from the motherboard so as to best conserve space, reduce heat affecting them and improve the overall aesthetic.
For more on the construction and design of the case, we highly suggest you check out the post over on iyd.kr.
It’s a fantastic gallery of images. It’s in Korean, but pictures speak 1000 words.
We’re immensely impressed by DGLee’s work. That said, if we’re going to spend an absurd number of money on an ultra-compact PC, we’d have it more focused on the GPU rather than the CPU.
That’s why we dream about AMD eventually selling their Quantum.